Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods


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As the main spoken language of the Jews for more than a thousand years, Yiddish has had plenty to lament, plenty to conceal. Its phrases, idioms, and expressions paint a comprehensive picture of the mind-set that enabled the Jews of Europe to survive a millennium of unrelenting persecution: they never stopped "kvetching"---about God, gentiles, children, food, and everything (and anything) else. They even learned how to smile through their "kvetching" and express satisfaction in the form of complaint. In "Born to Kvetch, " ...

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Mar 14, 2009

Nothing to kvetch about; it's profound and funny.

I've seldom seen a book about Yiddish that was as thorough and entertaining as "Born to Kvetch." Wex's knowledge of the Bible, the Talmud, the Yiddish language, Hebrew, and the cultural milieu in which Yiddish developed are amazing. And he puts this knowledge in cultural terms in which Americans who have lived in the last half of the 20th century can readily relate.

The book helped me understand many of the Yiddish phrases that my parents and grandparents used so often when they weren't speaking English.

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